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Garlic 101a

Origin and History

Botanists believe that garlic probably originated in central Asia thousands of years ago. Clay models of garlic were found in Egyptian tombs - six dried garlic bulbs were in the tomb of Tutankhamen. Garlic is one of the plants featured at Plant Cultures, a website from Kew Gardens that covers a wide range of cultural and environmental issues relating to South Asia and its history of links to Britain

The leaves of the garlic plant are pointed which is probably where it derived its name: "gaar" being an old gothic word for "spear" gives us "spear leek".

Most people associate garlic with bad breath - chewing raw parsley is often recommended to help reduce the smell. The Roman poet Horace detested the smell of garlic and considered it vulgar and a sign of an evil spirit. Even Shakespeare mentions garlic - and is not complimentary.

Garlic is even mentioned in the Christian Bible [Numbers 11: 4-6].

Uses and Benefits

Garlic grows well with many other plants and help protect them from fungus and pests. Scientists at Newcastle University have shown that a barrier of garlic oil is an effective slug and snail repellent. There is also evidence that garlic can help protect people against mosquito bites.

Garlic also has a reputation in folklore for various health benefits, reputedly helping with everything from blood pressure to toothache. Some of these claims have been confirmed by modern science.

In 1999 the average garlic consumption in the US was more than three pounds of garlic per person. The "stinking rose" has come a long way since ancient Egyptian times.

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